"Shepherds ought to smell like sheep."
That’s one of those quotations that slows you down and makes you think. It got me thinking about how important it is for sales managers to be in the field with their people. Sales managers ought to smell more like the funky field than the sterile office.
It’s tempting to want to continually shut your door, block out distractions, and catch up on email and paperwork (it’s probably time to start calling this screen work, don’t you think?). Yes, there are times where you need to stop down and do some of that. But if you want to be a good leader and stay connected to your people and their work, to encourage best practices, and to spot opportunities for skill improvement, you need to get out there!
Get Out in The Field
You need to be where your people are engaging with prospects and clients, where the business happens (or fails to happen). This means getting out in the field with your people on calls, joining them on shared-screen client calls (using GoToMeeting, joinme.com, etc.), and looking for other opportunities to be close to the action.
The best place to spot opportunities for meaningful field time with your people is during your one-on-one meetings. We recommend you do those with salespeople who report to you once a week or not less than every other week. During those one-on-ones, look for chances to observe key meetings or calls that are coming up. If you make this a routine, your people will soon come to view it that way, as just the normal course of business in your sales organization. It won’t seem like you are picking on them or micro-managing.
When you’re out there, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spot good behavioral patterns worthy of recognition—as well as other patterns you can help improve with your coaching. Debrief following the call, asking them what went well (keep asking what went well, at least three times) and getting their opinion on what could have been improved.
Tie Your Observations Back to One-on-One Meetings
Make sure in your one on one meetings your people have a Weekly Sales Plan that guides them to good behavior. I define good behavior by getting them to think about upstream sales activity for their top prospects and pro-active serving and upselling (vs. just servicing) with their Key Accounts. Upstream activities are all the things that come before the presentation. Things like identifying decision influencers, establishing credibility, sharing insights, doing needs analysis, and all the other things that will help you create a proposal with no surprises—one they can and will say yes to as soon as you present it. Because, after all, you aren’t in a hurry to get to the proposal, you are in a hurry to get a yes!
Interested in learning more? Download a copy of your Weekly Sales Plan.